Dry eye

Specialty of Ophthalmology

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a common condition that happens when the eye doesn’t make enough tears and isn’t lubricated enough, normally due to meibomian gland dysfunction (located in the eyelids and responsible for lubricating the eyes). This affects the ocular surface: the tear film, eyelids, conjunctiva, and cornea.

This condition mainly affects women and the risk of getting it increases with age.  

Disease prognosis

Dry eye syndrome does not tend to be a serious condition; people affected tend to have some discomfort but don’t normally have vision loss.

By following the specialists’ advice, it normally disappears within a few days.  

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of dry eye syndrome are tired eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, gritty sensation, burning, or redness. These symptoms are normally worse in environments with wind, smoke, air conditioning, dust, or low humidity. Another symptom could be an intolerance to contact lenses.  

Tests for dry eye syndrome

Tests for dry eye syndrome include visual acuity measurement, slit lamp examination, measurement of the rate of tear production, tear concentration, and tear film rupture time.   

What causes it?

It is normally caused by hormonal changes that make the eyes produce less tears, such as the menopause or ageing. Other causes include sun exposure, some antianxiety medications, contraceptives, a dry environment (for example air conditioning or wind), smoking, heat, or past surgery, among others. Other possible causes include allergies, rheumatic diseases, and the use of electronic devices.

How can it be prevented?    

To avoid dry eye syndrome, it is recommended that low humidity places are avoided and some predisposing drugs. It is always important to see a dry eye specialist to have a correct diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment.

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